The wonky words infrastructure and resilience have circulated widely of late, particularly since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck paralyzing, costly blows in two of America’s fastest-growing states. Resilience is a property traditionally defined as the ability to bounce back. A host of engineers and urban planners have long warned this trait is sorely lacking in America’s brittle infrastructure.
The disinformation and falsehoods that can accompany breaking news online — involving terror attacks or national elections — have become a familiar plague in recent years. Big weather stories, it now seems clear, are not immune. On Twitter, Facebook and a handful of other venues, hundreds of thousands of people in recent days have clicked or shared items with headlines warning that Hurricane Irma was poised to become a Category 6 storm (on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity) that “could wipe entire cities off the map.”
His March 28 executive order “promoting energy independence and economic growth” rescinded the Obama administration’s calculation of the “social cost of carbon” — a metric that had been central to the process of crafting and justifying government rules addressing human-driven climate change.
Our story on March 13 concerning Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ views on the relationship between climate change and national security was based on excerpts from unpublished written exchanges between Mattis and several Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee following his Jan. 12 confirmation hearing.
Both the rhetoric and the actions have provoked despair among many who fear a Trump presidency will tip the planet toward an overheated future, upending recent national and international efforts to stem emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas. But will a President Trump noticeably affect the globe’s climate in ways that, say, a President Hillary Clinton would not have?